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'I could not keep Jyoti Babu's last request'

By Indrani Roy Mitra
Last updated on: January 18, 2010 10:41 IST
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It was impossible to get access to Indira Bhawan, Jyoti Basu's residence, without the help of his personal assistant Joykrishna Ghosh. Ghosh worked with the veteran leader for years and the two shared a very special ties.

"I could not keep his last request. He was desperate to get home. He asked me repeatedly, 'Joy, please take me home'", Ghosh told, tears rolling down his eyes.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon, as a huge crowd followed Basu's last journey from the private hospital to Peace Haven, where his body will be preserved, Ghosh talked about a man he knew from 1977.

He was like my father, my family It's hard to even imagine that I won't see him at Indira Bhawan again.

To outsiders, Jyotibabu came across as a stern individual, who hardly ever smiled. But those he knew him well would vouch for it that he was a man of compassion.

Just as no one could doubt his commitment to the party, no one could ever question his sincerity and love for his family. He was a man of strict principles who knew how to balance the personal and professional life.

Jyotibabu was very particular about details and nothing missed his attention. Be it drafting an official letter or organising a formal lunch, he always ensured that things were in order.

Whenever we travelled together he made sure that we had lunch and dinner together. He would never eat unless I was there with him. It was such a humbling experience for me.

He was a wonderful boss to work with, a kind and cooperative person who would never throw his weight around. Jyotibabu was respectful of his colleagues and was cautious not to hurt or insult them ever.

I learnt so much from him. He taught me the art of perfection, instilled in me grit and passion for work. The respect and trust that he showered on me made me a better individual.

About 40 long years that I spent with him, I never saw him misbehaving with anyone. He was a man of strong personality who never neglected his duties.

He was a strict disciplinarian and would take very good care of his health. Secret to his long and healthy life was his measured way of living.

I wish I could keep his last request. I wish I could bring him home.

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata